Favorite

Retreat into laughter 

‘The Retreat From Moscow’

Arkansas Repertory Theatre

April 14

If you’re in the mood for a good laugh, a good cry and some good theater, don’t miss the Rep’s production of William Nicholson’s “The Retreat From Moscow.”

The Rep’s Second Stage creates the perfect, intimate atmosphere for the small cast of three, and puts the audience right in the middle of the family’s “murder.” That’s murder as it is seen by the mother in the story, Alice, played by Rep veteran JoAnn Johnson, who after 33 years of marriage is suddenly left for another woman by her husband, Edward, played by Rep first-timer Samuel Maupin. These two characters that met, as Edward confides to his son, played by Tom Bateman, “on the wrong train,” are complete opposites who have grown unhappy with the routine of a routine marriage.

While the general plot is obviously rather melancholy, the tension is relieved by the quirky, comedic happenings of families and of people in general. The audience can’t help but sympathize, and try their hardest to choose sides, which they will find is impossible.

During the play’s opening scenes I found myself annoyed by Alice and her constant nagging at Edward, but midway through, the eccentric, separated wife reveals to us what it is like to be middle-aged and suddenly alone. Alice really opens up wide to the audience to relate the little changes that make it unbearably impossible to get through her new life: watching more television than before, making a meal for only herself, not having to dress in the morning because no one will see her. Johnson passionately reveals every lonely person’s greatest fear: “What’s going to happen to me when I am old?”

It is a story of survival, though, and also the guilt of the strong who are able to make it.

At the play’s core is the story of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, which Edward, the history teacher, keeps coming back to. The painting of the same name, by Adolph Northern, is projected onto the set as the audience awaits the play’s opening scene. “Retreat” is a story of traitors and abandonment, and a situation where the strong do what they have to for their own survival, even if it means leaving others behind or, in Edward’s case, “murdering” a family to escape unhappiness.

The audience members are all invited into the small set and family home, made up of a kitchen, dining room and living room. And in this small, enclosed theater, sitting in the “back” on the fourth row, it is impossible for one to look away from this family’s problems, and for the actors themselves, all three visible throughout, to be uninvolved in the action. For two hours I got a glimpse of something that I personally have never experienced but, as Alice says, statistically half of all families have. All three actors, who played their roles perfectly, filled the audience with laughter and (I can only speak for myself here) tears, and finished to a standing ovation.



Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Amy Bowers

Readers also liked…

  • An uneven 'Macbeth'

    Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth carries the play.
    • Sep 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • Judge Griffen dismisses execution challenge; says hands tied by 'shameful' Ark. Supreme Court ruling

    Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled today that he had no choice based on  a past Arkansas Supreme Court decision  but to dismiss a lawsuit by Death Row inmates seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection process.But the judge did so unhappily with sharp criticism of the Arkansas Supreme Court for failing to address critical points raised in the lawsuit.
  • Metroplan sets public hearing on 30 Crossing

    The controversial 30 Crossing project to fatten up seven miles of Interstate 30 from U.S. Highway 67 in North Little Rock to Interstate 530 in Little Rock will once again get a public hearing, thanks to a vote of the Metroplan board Wednesday.

Latest in Theater Reviews

Visit Arkansas

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal

Event Calendar

« »

March

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation